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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Afghanistan qualify for 2019 World Cup with victory over Ireland

Captain Asghar Stanikzai guides side home after wobble to clinch place at next year's tournament in England

Afghanistan were victorious against Ireland. Courtesy of ICC
Afghanistan were victorious against Ireland. Courtesy of ICC

Afghanistan have clinched the final spot at the 2019 Cricket World Cup after holding their nerve to beat Ireland by five wickets in the final Super Six game at the World Cup Qualifier in Harare on Friday.

Chasing 210 to win, a quickfire 54 off 50 balls from opener Mohammad Shahzad had looked as if had set up a comfortable victory.

But Ireland hit back as Simi Singh took 3-30 to leave the Afghans teetering at 145-4 with 12 overs to go.

However, Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai led by example for his side as he struck 39 not out off 29 balls, which included the winning boundary.

He and Najibullah Zadran (17 not out) saw them hope on to allow them to join hosts England, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa and the West Indies at next year's tournament.

Both Afghanistan and Ireland had been given a lifeline on Thursday as Zimbabwe had missed out on the chance to take the second qualification spot behind the West Indies after losing to the UAE.

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Irish captain William Porterfield had won the toss and they had initially looked set for a high score when they stood at 121-2 after 32 overs.

But the run out of Paul Stirling (55) began a loss of momentum in the innings as the Afghan bowlers led by Rashid Khan (3-40) and Dawlat Zadran (2-54) took a tight grip on proceedings and they had to be content with 209-7 from their 50 overs which would prove not to be enough for them to qualify for a fourth successive World Cup.

Afghanistan would wobble themselves in their innings but they did enough to ensure their participation at a second World Cup after they made their debuts in the tournament in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.

They will now face the West Indies on Sunday in Harare in the final of the Qualifier to see who will be crowned winners of the tournament, although both sides have already achieved their main objective.